An American in a group of strangers is likely to introduce themselves, ask questions, and share their story (where they’re from, what they do for work, etc.). At least that’s how I operate. But while I was trying to navigate the French social scene, I noticed people tended to be annoyed by my forced chit chat. When I finally stopped trying so hard, I realized that for them, a little awkward silence is no big deal — and is even preferred.
It honestly took me six months to get used to this way of interacting (or lack thereof), but now, I miss it. I waste so much energy trying to fill the silence — be it with the friend of a friend at a BBQ or the person making my Subway sandwich. I miss the French no-nonsense approach.